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Posted by Mento

Oh, hello. I didn't see you come in. I was just sitting here in this armchair, with a large book in front of a fireplace and thinking about how Brad-favorite Dead Space 2 compares to an earlier "shoot the bad things in space until they go away" contemporary, id Software's Doom II. As you might remember from the last Old vs New I did ( situated hereabouts), I just do these compare & contrast things for fun, and to pass my boredom onto you, the reader. The fact that all these seem to be sci-fi games is purely coincidence.
 
POSTSCRIPT:  Holy Christmas on Funkatron, I just started watching the Dead Space 2 Quick Look after getting halfway through this blog for ideas and they brought up Doom 2 as a comparison. That's some crazy selective memory loss. So, uh, this is Quick Look inspired? Let's go with that. To avoid issues.
 

Setting

Well, it's space again. But specifically, it's a journey through metaphorical hell (Dead Space 2) and a journey through literal hell (Doom II). Also, while Doom 2 starts you on Earth, it was all originally on both of Mars' moons. Dead Space 2 recognizes that Mars is old and busted and moves its business to Saturn, the new hotness. Otherwise they're both mostly just space stations with occasional creepy goth architecture.
 

The Bad Things

Now this is an interesting point. In either game, there seem to be two viewpoints on the creatures themselves: They're either biological weapons accidentally created by careless human research into ancient alien technology (something the Doom movie kind of stuck with), or they're some kind of religious phenomenon meant to deliver/tear us apart because Space Xenu Jesus is tired of us doing all the masturbating, or something. In both games you see evidence of either case, creating that kind of favorable narrative situation in horror media dealing with the unknown where you're given the opportunity to draw your own conclusions. But it's totally demons in Doom.
  

Pro-tah-gown-ist 

While Doomguy doesn't quite have the development arc Isaac does, he's about as fully-formed. They're both dudes that are getting kind of tired of dealing with monsters all the time. Considering this, it's probably best the Doomguy doesn't get much dialogue besides grunts and death screams. Isaac's a little more centered, except for the cluster f-bombs while stomping things, but he's still pretty much a normal guy in a bad situation (or a high-selling, critically-acclaimed series of bad situations) and little more than that. Ultimately, it's Doomguy who gets the most face time with the player, mostly because there's no way to get rid of his little avatar looking furtively around for demonic shenanigans.

Technology Level

Both Dead Space and Doom take part in some arbitrarily far year in mankind's development (2511CE and "the future, I guess" CE respectively), but the technology level is decidedly different. While Doom's universe has invented portal technology (which didn't go quite as well as when Aperture Science did it), Dead Space's universe has created and refined both telekinesis and stasis to the point where soldiers have their own personal "tell the laws of physics to sit down and shut up" modules. Weaponry-wise, I'd say the BFG has it because giant green plasma shit seem to beat anything Dead Space's weapons can shoot out. Other than that, in Doom it's the same old shotguns and pistols and chainguns and tree-felling equipment for.. space trees. Most of Dead Space's weapons seem to be engineering tools that are impossibly hi-tech presumably because space engineers have an awesome union.
 

Outer Space (Not Outer Space, Iowa)

Doom 2 won't let you go outside. Dead Space 2 does, but not too often and if you have to go out I hope you like getting shot at by giant testicle monsters. Doom 2 needed more airlocks to blast demons out of, but the technology wasn't there yet. But then Space Crusade had turn-based depressurization and I haven't seen anything that can beat that. Apparently the deadly vacuum of space moves one tile in every direction per turn, as all Warhammer 40k fans probably know.
 

Ammo Scarcity

While Doom is hardly a prime example of Survival Horror, balancing your ammo supply is pretty important. At some point you will have to put away your empty rocket launcher and use the plasma rocket launcher for a while, and the game is sorry for making you do that. You also have a finite supply of ammo, which is about twenty times more than Rambo can fit on his bandolier (and he's a big dude). Adversely, Dead Space 2 has even less room for ammo and has to share space with gigantic sniper rifles and javelin guns, cans of health drank, microchips and other tiny bits of semiconductor circuitry. All of which take up equal amounts of room. Obviously. In Dead Space 2's favor though, you do get more ammo from the corpses of monsters made from the corpses of humans, but mysteriously not on the corpses of humans. It's almost as if the giant bat Infector assholes inducted newly-made necromorphs with "welcome to abomination orientation; here's your pointy monster limbs and this human item you can no longer comprehend, which we want you to store in a random limb for.. emergencies. I guess."
 

Death Scenes

Doomguy just kind of gives up and slumps over at any number of health lower than one. Anything higher than or equal to that and he's just peachy though, if a little bloody. Isaac goes a little more analog rather than digital (I totally got these the wrong way around the first time! I have a brain problem!) with his health, as he starts slumping limply at low health and the joints connecting his limbs to his torso become all the more weaker. Dead Space 2 really put a lot of work into their death scenes, with at least one for every unique monster and some environmental hazards too. In all other cases a limb falls off and it's a trip (or a spastic flailing) to Ragdoll City for poor Isaac.
 

Survival Horror

So here's the thing. Is Doom 2 Survival Horror? Is Dead Space 2 Survival Horror? Well, in both you're surviving a horrible situation, but thanks to Silent Hill's establishing of the iconic formula (laid down by predecessors like Clock Tower) it's hard to argue the case for either fitting the same mold. In Survival Horror, it's often more about the running away from Clive Barker highschool notebook sketches than sticking around and trying to figure out which of its surplus extremities it needs the most and then blasting it off with something explosive.
 

Monster Closet

Both games do this because it's easy. There, I said it. I'm not sorry for saying it either. It's cheap as hell and completely expected. Well, it's unexpected, but it's expected that the unexpected is... I'm just going to move on.
 

Fucking Archviles

Both Infectors (asshole bats) and Archviles (asshole meaty skeletons) have a nasty habit of speedily moving around a room and resurrecting everything. KILL THE CLERIC FIRST. The Infector is currently embroiled in a "chicken and egg" scenario: Either an Infector is needed to create a Necromorph, in which case how does the first Infector come about? Or it's the Marker that turns all nearby dead tissue into Necromorphs, making Infectors completely superfluous. But hey, what about that proboscis? It's pretty gross-looking, am I right? Totally worth bringing that plot hole monster back.
 
 
Missed anything? Doomguy doesn't hallucinate glowy dead broads ( "What the hell does that mean? huh? "Make Us Whole", I don't even know what the hell that means, all I know is this "Nicole" character comes out of thin air in the middle of a goddamn space hallway while her buddies are running around cutting everybody to shreds, and she just stands there waiting for me to stomp my boot straight through her, with light coming out of her mouth!") , and Isaac doesn't at any point pull a massive grin and start punching the begiblets out of everything. Maybe I should've done a System Shock 2 comparison with Dead Space 2, but then I'd have to do one for System Shock 2 and Bioshock, and then I'd have to do one for Bioshock and Deus Ex and then blah blah blah long story short I kill everyone and turn the gun on myself. I'll have to do something with a different theme next; all these space oddities are getting me down. What with all the floating in a peculiar way and the stars looking very different today. So to speak.
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Posted by buzz_clik

Nice writeup, although I'd reckon that the more apt comparison would be Doom 3 and Dead Space II. Unless you're just going for the "second game in the franchise thing" in which case that's completely valid and I'll jus' shuddup.

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Posted by Mento
@buzz_clik:  Totally a legit option. Doom 3 certainly treads similar ground with the constant hauntings, audio logs and its liberal application of darkness & light (mostly darkness), but I went with Doom 2 because of the sequel thing, the time gap being larger and the small, almost insignificant matter of not having played Doom 3.
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Posted by buzz_clik
@Mento: *laugh* Gotcha. Aaand Followed.
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Posted by jkz

Actually quite entertaining. 
 
I enjoyed my time. I give this post 8 puppies out of 10.

Posted by dougmansion

I haven't played either of these games, but this was a fun read. I like your style.

Posted by BurningStickMan

"Isaac goes a little more digital rather than analog with his health"  -  I think you mean that the other way around.  Digital is either on or off.  Analog can ramp up from one state to the other, like a joystick.
 
Good writeup though, and I'm glad the overall story of Dead Space also doesn't make sense to other people.  Is the marker evil?  Wait, it's good?  Ok, the one in the first game was good but the second one was evil?

Posted by Inf225

Great job! it makes you think about how much (and how little) games have changed over time.

Posted by Mento
@BurningStickMan:  Aw hell, you're right. I must've bought into the DVD people's hype about digital being more versatile. 
 
As far as I can tell, the first Marker (found on Earth, made by Xenu) was a good one whose influence caused the human race to happen, according to Unitology at least. Every Marker since then has been made by humans who somehow fucked up its duplication and activated its DRM anti-piracy software, which happens to turn everyone into Necromorphs, because we can't have nice things. Both EarthGov (I guess the government of Earth?) and Unitology currently want to make their own Marker and stick it somewhere with a lot of daycare centers so they can create lots of Necromorphs and directly control the Human Instrumentality Project. Uh, I mean "the Convergence." Or stop it, I forget.
 
Personally I think these Markers are supposed to take lots and lots of human organic matter and use it to recreate a gigantic space monster in the image of the Marker's original creators. But like with the Mass Effect 2 compare & contrast, I'm starting to get paranoid about how often games borrow from other games.
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Posted by BurningStickMan
@Mento:   That would make sense, except the first marker wasn't the alien marker, at least according to that game.  It was the first clone of the alien marker, and the alien marker (if I understand correctly) has only been seen in the book.
 
Why did the government copy the marker?  How exactly did they manage to create a perfect copy of said alien marker, that also manages to work exactly the same as said marker?  That would be like me making a plaster statue of Gary Busey and somehow having it be identically crazy.   
 
And story-wise, if it's a perfect clone - WHY CLONE IT?
 
The true answer, of course, is money.  Hmm, Dead Space turned out really popular?  Well, make some mor'a those!  Before you know it, you've got ending cut-scenes talking about at least 12 other markers out there somewhere.
Posted by august

Doom 3 is basically a crappy version of System Shock 2 but with awesome lighting tech.